Partnering with Elgin Energy
At Elgin Energy, we understand the challenges that landowners and agricultural businesses face. Over the past ten years, we have worked with landowners providing secure revenue and contributing to the regeneration of rural enterprises. Our solar farms are low impact installations that produce clean energy, and depending on the location and land type, can improve biodiversity and support dual land use. If you would like to learn more about partnering with us, please provide your details below.
Large landholdings (70+ acres)
If you own 70+ acres of flat land with natural screening in the form of hedgerows or trees and are within 5km of a substation, please provide your details below and a member of our team will be in touch.
How do you choose the location of a solar farm?
The first and most important factor in determining the location of a solar farm is access to and capacity on the electricity grid. Ideally projects will be located within 5km of a substation that has capacity. For UK & Australian sites, overhead lines passing through the site are useful too.
What size of land is required for a solar farm?
Elgin Energy is identifying sites that are 70 acres or larger for solar farms.
Is site location restricted based on land classification?
Ireland does not have an Agricultural Land Classification system but the UK does. The Agricultural Land Classification was introduced in the 1960s and provides a framework for classifying land according to the extent to which its physical or chemical characteristics impose long- term limitations on agricultural use.
Across the UK, we choose sites that are grade 3 – 5. This land is not the most agriculturally productive land.
In Australia, each state has a zoning system and agricultural classifications. Sites are considered and selected based on these regulations.
How long does it take to build a solar farm?
Installation in Ireland and the UK is very quick. The largest solar farm in Northern Ireland, Bann Road, 46MW covering 180 acres was installed and energised in four months.
Installation in Australia can take longer due to harsher ground conditions and larger project size.
What is involved in the installation process?
The first step is building the substation. Substations are small buildings that house equipment connecting the solar farm to the grid. The only concrete poured on site is for the substation and inverter bases. Inverters convert the electricity from direct current produced by solar panels to grid compatible alternating current. There is approximately one inverter per MW installed and their location is site specific and suitably located within the existing landscape.
The arrays are constructed by driving galvanised steel poles into the ground. The mounting frame is secured to these poles and solar panels are fixed to these frames. No concrete is poured for these arrays.
Installation of tracking systems is much the same as the mounting frame with steel posts driven into the ground and no concrete poured.
All cabling across the site is buried underground.
How does the decommissioning process work?
At the end of the project’s lifetime, the panels are disconnected, the mounting frames/tracking systems are taken apart and the steel posts are removed from the ground. The decommissioning process takes approximately the same time as the installation process. All equipment removed is reused or recycled.
Is glint and glare an issue with solar farms?
As part of the planning process for our UK & Irish projects, we prepare a glint & glare report. Glint and glare is not an issue for solar panels as they are designed to absorb sunlight, not reflect it. This is evidenced by the solar installation at Dublin Airport. We aim to locate our solar farms in sites that are screened by hedgerows and/or trees. Due to the remote location of Australian solar farms, a glint & glare report is not always required.
Does a solar farm have a negative impact on wildlife and biodiversity?
Solar farms typically occupy less than 5% of the ground they cover as the steel posts are the only component on the ground, aside from the substation and inverter stations. This leaves huge scope for biodiversity. A timber and post “deer” fence is included as part of the site design for Irish & UK projects. It has a gap of 10cm at ground level to allow wildlife to pass through.
Solar farms encourage ecological growth as they are tranquil, largely undisturbed sites which do not require heavy machinery or intensive farming to maintain. Existing hedgerow and site vegetation are retained and additional hedgerows are planted to minimise views and encourage increased biodiversity.
Ecological Appraisals are carried out as part of the planning process to identify what animals are present and to ensure no protected species are inhabiting the site.
Tree surveys are conducted to detail existing trees in and around the site and to identify exposed or endangered trees. Construction exclusion zones (CEZ) are imposed where necessary to protect trees.
For our UK & Irish projects, the soil is left fallow for the lifetime of the project allowing the soil to regenerate. Planting of suitable flowers/vegetation is also included as part of the site design for these projects. Where possible, beehives and/or insect hotels are installed too providing additional biodiversity enhancements.
Do solar farms increase the risk of flooding?
As no mass concrete surface is required and the majority of the solar farm remains open grassland, the solar farm infrastructure does not affect run-off volumes.
For Australian sites, remediation and runoff water design is usually required and incorporated into our site design.
Is there permanent lighting on site?
There is no permanent lighting on site across our solar farms. For health & safety reasons, there will be temporary task lighting on site during standard working hours.
Does a solar farm make any noise?
The only moving parts on UK & Irish solar farms are the fans in the inverter station. The fan within the inverter is the same size and rating of a fan that is found in most domestic bathrooms.
For Australian sites, trackers may be installed. These are additional moving parts emitting a low noise.
Will CCTV extend beyond the site boundaries?
CCTV is in operation in and around our projects for security purposes. Data captured from CCTV on site at Elgin Energy’s projects is retained for a period of 30 days as per our GDPR compliance.
Once operational, how much traffic will go to / from the site?
Once the project is energised, maintenance trips usually take place 5 – 6 times annually.